All Weather News

Expanding Heat – New England Chill – Louisiana Flood Risk – Tropical Storm Potential in 9 Days?

4 PM Thursday. Heat continues to expand northward across the Plains, highs approaching 90F Friday afternoon as far north as South Dakota and western Minnesota. Meanwhile New England remains cool, under the influence of a “backdoor cold front”, sizzling 100-degree heat from Las Vegas to Phoenix. Map: HAMweather.

Gulf Coast Soakers. NOAA’s models (consistently) print out excessive amounts of rain for much of the Lower Mississippi Valley, as much as 6-8″ rain for Louisiana over the next 7 days. 2-5″ rains are possible from Montana, the Dakotas and Minnesota into portions of the Ohio Valley by Wednesday of next week.

Risk of “Arthur”? It’s still very early, and our confidence level is low. This may just be noise, but a couple of consecutive GFS model runs show a possible tropical depression or tropical storm pushing out of the Gulf of Mexico into Florida by Saturday, June 7. In fact a series of storms may soak Florida and much of the Southeast, increasing the potential for flash flooding between June 5-13. We’ll have to keep an eye on this and see if there is model continuity and agreement on this potential solution. For now it’s just a small risk, but it pays to be perpetually paranoid. Source: WSI.

Tornado Damages Trailers at North Dakota man camp. At least 15 trailers associated with fracking in western North Dakota were severely damaged by a tornado late Monday. Details from The Washington Post. Fargo’s has video of the actual tornado and more details on injuries, at least one critical.

Advances in Technology, Social Media Changing How Quickly People See Tornado Devastation. This is the case with all outbreaks of extreme weather. The authors point our (correctly in my humble opinion) that social media, in addition to local legacy TV/radio, can provide valuable confirmation that a storm is actually causing damage – in real time – increasing the odds that people will do the right thing and seek shelter. Yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to take your laptop, tablet or smartphone down to the basement. Here’s a clip from “Experts say that advances in technology, particularly social media, are changing how people watch for severe weather and how quickly images of the damage can be shared. John Robinson, the warning coordinator for the National Weather Service’s Little Rock office, said Facebook, Twitter and other social media as well as smart-phone apps are helping people learn about storm warnings faster...”

Storm Chaser Tim Samaras: One Year After His Death, His Gift is Unmatched.Here’s an excerpt of a terrific story (and video) on Tim’s remarkable tornado research legacy, one year after his tragic death outside Oklahoma City, courtesy of National Geographic: “…Honoring the legendary Tim Samaras and his partners by continuing the chase has been the easy part. Filling his shoes is another matter. The TWISTEX research has “ground to a halt,” says cofounder Bruce Lee. “Tim held the project together, and he was the one who interacted with the nonacademic money folks.” Though the Texas Tech “Stick-Net” field researchers and the team headed by Joshua Wurman at the Colorado-based Center for Severe Weather Research continue to deploy devices intended to gather supercell measurements, no one has come close to matching the comprehensive data Samaras was able to get from inside the tornadoes themselves. Nor has an inventor of his stature emerged…”

Storm Chasing From Home. Full disclosure: Kory Hartman now works with me at Media Logic Group, but he continues to run Severe Studios, which aggregates and curates storm chasing videos from around the nation – he’s done a remarkable job growing his business and I’m lucky to have him on my team. Here’s a clip from an article at The Wright County Journal Press: “For a South Dakota radio announcer, storm chasing was a hobby until one day a tornado being videotaped in western Iowa suddenly veered in the direction of the storm chasers’ vehicle and spun it sideways as the occupants yelled and screamed in terror. That incident changed everything.  Kory Hartman, who now lives in Monticello, said the hobby suddenly became a business.  He is now the CEO of Severe Studios and coordinates a network of storm chasers. The western Iowa tornado had killed four boys at the Little Sioux Scout Ranch, and the news about the tragedy was reported across the nation.  You can still find the New York Times story on the Internet. Hartman said it was heartbreaking to go see the Scout Ranch.  He remembers a kid’s shoe hanging from a tree…” (Image credit: The Drummer).

National Weather Service Kinda, Sorta Explains Its Major Data Outage. Meteorologist Andrew Freedman has the story at Mashable; here’s a clip: “…The memo says the data disruption was triggered by an upgrade to the weather data dissemination system itself, specifically a modification to a network firewall. The firewall was supposed to continue to allow data to pass through it, but “within minutes, engineers noticed that data were not traversing the firewall.” The memo claims all warnings did reach the public despite the loss of the main automated delivery system, which is a questionable claim considering that many storm chasers, television meteorologists, online news sites and others in the weather community reported disruptions in crucial radar data and severe weather warnings on Thursday…”

Alaska Wildfire Keeps Growing After Evacuations. 248 square miles? This is one big fire, coming unusually early in the season, coming on the heels of an unusually warm and dry winter and spring across Alaska. Here’s an excerpt from AP and ABC News: “Officials said that possible rain forecast this week in Alaska could help crews gain control over a massive wind-whipped wildfire that forced dozens of people to flee to shelters and move some of their animals to safety at rodeo grounds. The Funny River Fire in the state’s Kenai Peninsula covered nearly 248 square miles as of Monday morning and was 30 percent contained, according to the Alaska Interagency Interagency Management Team. No injuries or structure damage has been reported, officials said…”

File photo credit above: “The Funny River Fire continues to burn in Kasilof, Alaska on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Firefighters estimate that more than 20,000 acres have been burned in the blaze.” (AP Photo/Peninsula Clarion, Rashah McChesney).

Watch As The Smoke Plume From Alaska’s Raging Funny River Fire Is Pulled Into an Atmospheric CycloneDiscover Magazine has the story, imagery and video loop; here’s an excerpt: “…Here’s a great explanation from the “Weather Guys” at the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies:

A big fire produces strong upward moving air currents that carry water vapor and ash upward. The water vapor can condense on the ash forming cloud drops. The vigorous upward motions produce these pyrocumulus clouds that look similar to thunderstorm clouds, which also form due to strong upward moving air.

Imagery credit above: “NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this view of the smoke plume from the Funny River Fire as it was pulled into a cyclonic pattern of atmospheric circulation in the Gulf of Alaska on May 20, 2014.” (Source: NASA).

Massive, 2-Week China Floods Sends Half A Million Fleeing. Here are more details on an ongoing and serious flood situation gripping China, courtesy of robertscribbler: “…Each new dawn brings with it fresh losses with numerous major roads closed, bridges washed out, and adding to what is now an almost endless tally of evacuation orders. Daily rainfall totals in the range of 2-6 inches or more have saturated grounds, burst riverbanks, and turned streets into torrents. By today, more than 1 million people had been impacted with nearly a half million evacuated or rescued from flooded buildings. Since the, still ongoing, floods began in mid-May, more than 25,000 homes and 40 souls have been lost to the epic storms…” 
Image credit above: “Relentless heavy rainfall over Southeast China visible in the above four satellite images on [left to right, top to bottom] May 12, May 18, May 23rd and May 27th.” Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

Solving The Vicious Cycle of Air Conditioning. All that waste heat from air conditioning on a massive, metro-level scale can add a couple degrees to the urban heat island. Details from Yahoo News; here’s a clip: “In hot, dry Phoenix, air conditioning is for much of the year a necessity for public health. But with all those machines spewing hot air outside to provide cool air inside, what happens to the outdoor temperature? That’s the question researchers set out to answer in a recent study, and what they found was pretty surprising. Over 10 days, excess heat from air conditioners running during the night resulted in temps two degrees higher than they would have been, worsening the urban heat island effect and adding to cooling demands…” (Image: College Humor).

Solar Roadways. Solar panels that you can drive, park and walk on. They melt snow and…cut greenhouse gases by 75 percent? The goal was $1 million in crowd-sourced funding – the inventors are closing in on $1.5 million. Details at


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Welcome to the WeatherNation blog. Every day I sift through hundreds of stories, maps, graphics and meteorological web sites, trying to capture some of the most interesting weather nuggets, the stories behind the forecast. I’ll link to stories and share some of the web sites I use. I’m still passionate about the weather, have been ever since Tropical Storm Agnes flooded my home in Lancaster, PA in 1972. I’ve started 5 weather-related companies. “EarthWatch” created the world’s first 3-D weather graphics for TV stations – Steven Spielberg used our software in “Jurassic Park” and “Twister”. My last company, “Digital Cyclone”, personalized weather for cell phones. “My-Cast” was launched in 2001 and is still going strong on iPhone, Android and Blackberry. I sold DCI to Garmin in 2007 so I could focus on my latest venture: WeatherNation. I also write a daily weather column for The Star Tribune And if you’re on Twitter, you’ll find me @pdouglasweather

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